The Misfits 

Saturday, July 29; Galaxy

The rise and fall and rise of the Misfits reads like the bizarro-world version of the Van Halen saga: Young rock band featuring a pair of talented brothers (Jerry Only and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein) and a charismatic lead singer with small-man syndrome (Glenn Danzig) emerges from the doldrums of mid-1970s coma-rock to spawn a legacy of songs that continue to drop jaws and inspire musicians 20-plus years later. The band then fragments in the mid-'80s when the theatrical vocalist with the big voice embarks on an ill-advised solo career, leaving the brothers behind to quit the biz or carry on without him. Proving themselves wiser than the brothers Van Halen, Jerry and Doyle hang it up for the next decade and return to their creepy crypt in Lodi, N.J.

That should have been the end of the Misfits as anything other than a cult band, but the bizarro-world factor would not be denied. In 1996, at roughly the same time as Sammy Hagar's departure from Van Halen, Jerry and Doyle revived the dormant Misfits and hit the road with a new vocalist and yet another in a long line of drummers. They released American Psycho, the first new Misfits material in 14 years, in 1997. Famous Monsters followed two years later, and then things really got weird. Doyle and Jerry licensed their likenesses to a toy company, and all of a sudden the Misfits were action figures. And then, to put the capital A in "action," they entered the cartoon universe of professional wrestling while continuing to tour as a legitimate punk band. Kind of shows Alex and Eddie's rotating-singer drama up for the sorry soap opera it is, doesn't it?

Traditionalists will whine, "It's not really the Misfits without Glenn," but piss on that. Sure, Glenn wrote all those great songs, but does he play "Return of the Fly" in concert? Nope. Has he written a song as kick-ass as "She" or "Bullet" since leaving the Misfits? Again, nope. The Misfits not only play the old songs, they rock the shit out of them. And they have learned to write some pretty decent ghoul-rock songs that carry on the tradition they started back in 1977. Jerry and Doyle have succeeded in bringing one of the greatest bands ever back from limbo: What more can you ask of them? And as for Glenn, well, there's supposedly a singing slot up for grabs in Van Halen again. Now that would be really bizarre.

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